tv After Words CSPAN March 28, 2016 8:30pm-9:29pm EDT
author, fascinating people. >> i love tv and i miss c-span fan. >> up next it's booktv in prime-time with books on politics. first matt lewis talks about his book on the state of the republican party titled "too dumb to fail". in his book "too dumb to fail" author matt lewis explores how the republican party has changed to the years to its current state today. he recently discussed the book with conservative commentator s.e. cupp on "after words." this is an hour. >> host: matt, first when did you start writing this book
because it really predicts the landscape of where we are now with this election. it's so timely. take me through the process of windows all formed in your head. guess i think i did get lucky with the timing. somebody said i should buy a powerball ticket because i could see the future is hard to say when you start writing a book. you write a proposal or so when you turn in that manuscript? i would say i've years ago i started writing comma which led me to this book and it was around this time the sarah palin went rogue and i had initially thought i like sarah palin and after the way she kind of got radicalized and changed i started seeing candidates like christine o'donnell and sharon engel who were saying things that i felt uncomfortable with as a conservative. they were playing identity politics. they were casting themselves as the victim playing the victim card which struck me as a conservative and it was in a populist tone.
that got me writing about this topic and ultimately led to the week my book comes out, sarah palin endorses donald trump and how could i have planned back? >> host: you couldn't, really amazing timing and let's get back to the election. first remind people of the intellectual history of conservatism. i know when i go to colleges i tell students you would be surprised to learn that the rock stars at the manhattan cocktail parties is to be conservative. talk about that rich history. >> guest: in fact there was a time not that long ago when they were too intellectual and to academic and pointy headed intellectuals that could appeal to the common back then. completely opposite today of course.
the british parliamentarian who famously was very supportive they american call against the french revolution. you know this is a guy to has been incredibly influential and if you look at the sort of battle, the intellectual tatel that edmund burke had against thomas paine against the right in the left even to this day and burke leaped and presuming -- preserving tradition and western civilization didn't just miraculously happen. it was a product of the king laid wisdom. modern conservatives hearken back to burke. i would say the moderate american conservative --. >> host: post moderate, yeah.
>> guest: in reaction to fdr and the new deal and you have again mostly manlike hayek and eventually what ayn rand would be the woman sort of the libertarian woman who certainly contributed to that. people like russell kerr, richard weaver and the william f. buckley's sewed really rich intellectual tradition that in recent years we have gotten away from as we have dumbed down conservatism. >> host: tell me if you agree i think there are still contemporary intellectuals within the movement, people like mark stein or i would offer thomas sowell but they seem to be getting marginalized. they are not getting as much attention as some other folks. why do you think that is? >> guest: part of it is a product of our culture. you have the entertainment wing
of the republicans party really kind of dominating and so you know you can write something really fabulous but as rush limbaugh said something about sandrof luke -- sandra fluke on cable news what's going to get the most attention and so really in the book "too dumb to fail" the title hearkens to the too big to fail mentality where where the case is too big to fail you obviously have financial institutions who had her first incentives to take risks that we the taxpayers would bail them out and i i think it was simpler dynamic in the conservative movement with politicians and pundits rated fewer political pundit you have a perverse incentive to saying something controversial to provocative even if the conservative movement cumulatively is harmed by it. >> host: i hear you there and i want to bring up the rush
limbaugh important point but first i want to. and have become it. you write too many of today's conservatives deliberately shine on academic excellence, experienced ligation is this. many the people doing so are not as as they pretend to be. even those were conservatives who possess a wealth of knowledge feel obliged to act. maybe that's what you are talking about, that desire to put on an affect of dumbness. when did that become a thing? >> guest: i think the book is called "too dumb to fail" and there's a thing that i called too smart to win for you basically have an every man populism in order to get ahead and pander to voters and it's really unfortunate that a lot of the people who do this are highly intelligent. donald trump is the billionaire who is obviously playing this
game. ted cruz and credible academic resume and cachet and again pandering to the populist conservative state but the really sad part is the candidate to try to do it and can't. bobby jindal rhodes scholar and incredibly intelligent conservative cries desperately desperately -- tries this really to pandering to be an every man and it just didn't work. i think really sadly scott walker who doesn't have the academic resume by the smart and capable governor to really get it then the bridge between the establishment and the grassroots but instead decided he have to win iowa, he had to pander to iowa voters and birthright citizenship. he kind kind of went against this brand earlier so basically we have the scenario where basically you have to pretend to
be something you are not and the unfortunate part is that in order to pander to republican primary voters in iowa to adopt a persona and style it would actually hurt you when it comes to winning over millennials or cosmopolitan voters. conservative voters are turned off by the cultural baggage and the stylistic stereotypes of what we think of only think of conservative. >> host: and you are not suggesting that populism writ large is all bad, right? i think ronald reagan was able to success solely mary intellectual conservatism with vigorous populism. >> guest: absolutely and is one of the things attracted to define in the book. i am guilty of it too because you need shortcuts but what do they mean and one of the many words as populism.
populism means a government that believes any american people instead of the establishment or the elites that i might qualify as a populist. unfortunately populism oftentimes leads to a pandering and demagoguery and if we look at some of the modern populist say for example george wallace we see there is a pernicious strain that comes along with populism when they basically have to find somebody to blame. it's a philosophy that if you are not careful can evolve into a woe was me we can't get ahead those other people are stopping us from being successful. to me that's patently not conservative. that's a belief that if you work hard you can achieve and achieve the american dream. that is something that i think is not conservative and -- to
the human spirit at a micro level. >> host: do you think in some ways that all of this in bob goodlatte is a reaction to the liberal secular elite projects? i'm thinking mostly in the 2000's, sort of the what is the matter with kansas projects that liberals look at the flyover states and say you guys are a bunch of brutes. you are not voting your interest. you're just clinging to guns and religion and so conservatives say okay we'll take care of you guys. we will be your voice. i would imagine you would agree that is a good impulse but it just happened wrong. >> guest: what i would say if conservatives are sad, i think that there is a mistake when you let the other side define who you are and i think so often conservatism in recent years has been defined as whatever obama
obama -- on the rare occasion that obama is for something good like say free trade we must reflexively vote against it in the problem with that is when you allow the other guy, if you have a knee-jerk reaction to begins whatever the other person is for you are letting them define the parameters. so that's the unfortunate result. i think the weird phenomenon is there are many factors that are leading to where we are paid some of it is barack obama's presidency which i don't think has been helpful for the country and i think it's led to a lot of american dissolutions. the if you were bernie sanders and you're an outsider you like capalusa and if you are donald trump you might like immigration but there's automation globalization. all sorts of things are feeding into this and i do fully appreciate that there are a lot of americans who are angry upset
and frustrated. i think a least some of that desire is understandable and i can certainly identify with it. >> host: talk about the role of evangelicals because that's a huge part of modern conservatism and modern republican coalitions and you argue attempting to win and keep those voters has been a little bit damaging. >> guest: a little bit. the premise of the book is conservatism started out as a thoughtful intellectual philosophy that a gotten dumped down the last part is that we can actually get it back and restore some services and in a way looked backwards to restore the good things about an intellectual force but also look forward in that it appealed to 21st century america. along the way and telling that story at document how the dumbing down happened and part of the way it happened was we have what i refer to as a
conservative minute. this could be a confusing word but where is hearing about the problem of immigrants coming to america and how they need to be assimilated and if they are not assimilated immigrants can change to contain essentially wake up and as a country recognize that i argue that the political movement and the parties the same way. you want a new influx of people that will be -- but they need to be assimilated. you don't recognize the party that you are. conservatism over the years have had different ways of coming into the republican party. one of them in the late 1970s and early 1980s were evangelicals who helped ronald reagan win the election but i also argue they brought in some less than positive attributes. i actually managed evangelical and i written the book that i believe it's important that people of faith be involved in politics. one of my heroes as william wilberforce who was a member of
parliament and had a religious conversion led the fight against the british slave trade in math and a example of how people in faith who can be involved in politics and make a positive difference. unfortunately if you look at the modern history of evangelicalism since 1925 poorest world war i era you have the scopes monkey trial and it's really hard to underestimate the profound impact that had on people on evangelicals specifically in america. unfortunately we had a situation where basically you have to make a choice. you are being an evangelical or -- they were really seen as mutually exclusive. you can extrapolate that for 50 years and you basically have a situation where a lot of people who are joining the conservative movement to help ronald reagan were actually anti-intellectuals. they were very skeptical of anything that might be perceived
as intellectual and i think while there were some good things to come from that we are today paying the price with the stereotype of republicans being the stupid party. >> host: so how, obviously conservatives in the republican party still want to be the home for people. how do you suggest the party reach out to evangelicals like you while not sounding anti-science? >> guest: the good news is in recent years i think evangelicals have made great strides at marrying their thoughtful understanding and appreciation of science and popular culture with a devout faith so there's no longer this decision like you can either believe in it or be taken seriously. i think marco rubio -- as a
young up-and-coming evangelical, this is much more in keeping with the modern evangelical movement. it's very different from what we saw with this sort of the cultural wars silent majority era. >> host: falwell. >> guest: exactly. there is less -- but people of devout faith and they have these interesting nuance position where they simultaneously can't believe that god used evolution and the earth to be billions of years old and the nicene creed and god created the universe and put it all in motion and they believe in the birth and the resurrection so we are eliminating that falls that plagued us for so long.
>> host: let's talk about young people because millennials are the largest generation, 80 million of them. they have been taken for granted by the placenta virtually ignored by conservatives as a voting bloc. millennials today have a need for government. is it necessary for conservatives to reach out to young people and maybe have them for life and how do we do that? >> guest: i couldn't agree more and is much as my book lays out a lot of problems and conundrums demographically there's a huge opportunity right now because in a way if you think that hillary clinton's version of liberalism is a 20 centric command and control factory model of government. it really is. it's top-down antiquated version of government and if you compare it, i talk about this if you are young lady living in a city and
you order an uber underscore donyndyk get into the car and you get on stubhub in order concert ticket you i think are conservative because number one you are not going to believe in onerous government regulation regulations that would stifle creativity and apps like uber. you are entrepreneurial by definition by virtue of what you are doing. you are probably not going to want the government manager retirement funds and when you probably manager stock market portfolio and your smartphone. if your view of what conservatism means is boss hogg and writing round the confederate flag in the back of your truck you are not going to be paid i think there are people like marco rubio and paul ryan who were legitimate conservative candidates but who also have the potential to tap into and sell conservatism to a 21st century
american audience that would be different than the coalition that we are used to. >> host: do you think it's possible that republicans in the near future -- >> guest: i really think we are at a crossroads right now. the party of marco rubio and paul ryan said the dramatic weight different message may be for a generation in the of donald trump. we don't know what direction we are going to go as a party that could send a different -- you know donald trump's philosophy of doubling down on working-class white combo folder rural southern married voters is in the short term not a crazy
idea of the sort of like getting a reverse mortgage. i think in the long-term is probably not the best mood -- best move enough to say that we should sell out but either way is basically arguing we are going to appeal to these democrats who have been staying home. either direction involves bringing in new people the coalition. the matter of what people are growing in terms of the population. >> host: i want to talk more about trump later but disney at the point? the democrats have been bleeding older white to color men. there are no blue dogs anymore and isn't donald trump right that someone like him could finally get those people who have been staying home not voting for hillary clinton or
bernie sanders to vote for him? >> guest: it's possible and i think in the short term it could. i think it's a branding problem and a long-term mathematical problem but i'm not one of these people who thinks it's crazy in the short term. i think it's feasible that donald trump could change the game and pick up voters who feel like they have been left behind, absolutely. >> host: let shift for a minute. this is always bothered me. why do conservatives want to make every subculture the standardbearer of the movement? i'm thinking of tim davis, george zimmerman. it's one thing to defend certain principles and each one of those cases there something there to defend but how do we stop embracing people who make us look bad? >> guest: it's crazy.
i think after ben carson is crazy but we kind of walked talked him into the presidential race. he should have been running for governor. >> host: he should be it doctor. i hear he's a really good doctor. >> guest: if you really care but the conservative cause who is more valuable a guy who runs for president amongst 17 people were a guy who is a leading neurosurgeon who is african-american, you know and is pro-life and talks about the culture of life. i would argue who is more valuable to turn -- before running for president. everybody wants to top in the conservatives have similar things happening. one bears a competition for the underdog. also the enemy of my enemy is my friend. don imus who was a vulgar old
cowboy but as soon as the politically correct bill liberal thought police went after him they didn't defend him. while why? just because he's the victim of these horrible people doesn't mean he is in edmund burke or something. another issue that happens too ironically we are always talking about the west coast and all that but we are the biggest fanbase first liberty. it's sort of like how people discover they are a conservative only after their career went down in hollywood. >> host: they have nothing to lose. >> guest: they open them with with -- they welcome them with open arms and i thought you meant that in the book. this friend that i think is part of the dumbing down. i don't want to hear that
dynasty guy talk politics. i don't think that nascar driver is necessarily the best person to talk to me about whether or not it's good policy but that's where getting in a lot of political commentary now. >> host: this is the issue also that look i don't mind if tony ford has a political opinion. he's entitled with as much as i am and he can talk about her desk and ben affleck and that's fine but isn't the bigger problem for hypocrisy on our side that we completely dismiss hollywood celebrities as irrelevant and stupid and unimportant until one comes out for our site and then it's clint eastwood is coming to the convention to talk to an empty chair? that's fantastic. >> guest: i think you're right or it's a lot of hypocrisy and we just write off the culture. we write off hollywood when it
suits us. >> host: i've had this long running debate with andrew breitbart -- breitbart. we disagreed whether we want to support the hollywood artistic celebrity kind of culture and play in that space and conservative projects or whether we want to be really good at being conservative. i don't think you can do both. it's very tricky as we are discussing. what's your opinion? >> guest: i think i would probably agree with andrew. i think it's important that people have a conservative worldview become more involved in the arts. i think it's different than prodding them not to talk about politics. action should be talking about politics. there should be people who are
conservative with a conservative worldview that happen to be good at making movies or telling jokes or being a chef, whatever it is in the culture. i think it's a mistake only politicize them. then you have what happened to dr. carson actually. he would have been much better staying out of the overt political arena and weighing in on the edges helping. a culture. >> host: okay so who are among the worst, the worst people perpetuating the too to fail impulse and modern interpreting service him? >> guest: for me to name them is a complement. the people who are the worst are people who are notable. they are people that made an impact. it's the work person in the world that nobody knows who they are sitting home so it take this
as a badge of honor people. let me throw one name that's a big name and that you talk about which is rush limbaugh. i am in a just thing with rush, not that i know him but my dad who was a prison guard turned me onto listening to rush's show around 1988 when he went national and i wouldn't be sitting here for wasn't per rush. i listened to show all the time. he really helps inspire me but over the years if you like rush has abdicated his responsibility that i think he would have had in a classic example was donald trump. you have a lot of radio host mark levin being another name who lately have sort of turned on trump but for a long time they provided cover and they helped this monster essentially grow to the point where they couldn't stop him. i think that you say well i'm
just an entertainer or whatever the copout is but i do miss the days when you had someone like william f. buckley who accepted their leadership and responsibility. it's really hard now. there are a lot -- are not a lot left who can essentially police to write and say it on too far and you are hurting the cause. think rush is one of the few people left who had an people get mad at me when i say this but the moral authority on the right to call out trump initially and to say no he's not a conservative. i think rush missed that opportunity and i don't know if it was because he goes to more a lot of the trump or the fact fact that chunk was taken the politically correct, whatever. >> host: pop news or whatever. >> guest: or if it was because he was a stalking horse for ted cruz and whatever the reason reason being as little disappointed. >> host: as you know i have run into rush.
i merely suggested not long ago, right after 2012 i believe, i suggested that once in a while conservatives should feel free to disagreed with people like rush limbaugh and you think there is just then, he's almost untouchable. people have courage to call up people like rush or william holder. .. >>
>> event i spoke with the leaders of the institute's there are a conservative than organization and i am telling you committee did the people i feel like donald trump. i was expecting push back when i first started writing these columns five years ago if i dared to stating abroad o'donnell i was a sellout. but the timing is right in so many ways including the fact because what ian culture traits something
says i don't care if donald trump performs abortions in the white house as long as his hard-core immigration people - - policy people they're breaking up to engage in introspection or criticism it is time to do that. [laughter] to look under the hood. >> all these very successful and talented face is the of the party are they on their way out? or do we all live together? >> that is a good question. where you basically have a
conservative movement that i'd be a part of the police and small government free trade and free markets to bring about flourishing to help cubans reach their potential and the more populist native movement that is basically for protectionism and essentially a european style white and identity politics i hope we don't get to that because i fear we could be headed that direction or politics is not:ideas but essentially what tribe are you at? if you are a college graduate you are assigned
democratic rural working-class white person and then become a republican issue have a vigorous debate it should not define your political persuasion in some ways that is with the leaking liberalism the conservative argument to fight fire with fire. why should we try to emulate liberalism? >> you save modernize don't moderate you are not suggesting watering down the conservative principle or cleansing the party so what does modernizing look like a?
>> so many people to have written books about how to fix the republican party it is just become more liberal stop talking about abortion and so much. i was at a book party but this was stereotypical and somebody said what the think of john kasich? he seems like what would be the perfect idea. >> and in terms of the nominee it doesn't appeal to me and i knew that wouldn't resonate but. >> every person i talked to said that john kasich is the best chance. [laughter] but that is not what i am advocating.
right now i think marco rubio and ted cruz that our best in body with a true movement of conservatism. maybe the modernized all moderates feel through the 21st century but they are legitimate conservatives slave not advocating becoming more liberal it just seems to be conservative because we conflate toughness and a girl with conservatism. but if you have a litmus test of what i believed compared to donald trump and in coulter i would be much more conservative. i am pro-life and national defence whatever it is i will go back to my story
when i talk about modernizing it is not changing your position to become more pro-abortion but having a movement to turn off people that are conservatives. >> host: does that mean talking differently? or voting differently? how'd we modernize, right now? >> there is a lot to that but to subscribe to the great man but that could make a difference. symbolically speaking "the donald" trump is very different and into speaks spanish fluently talking about his father being a a bartender.
was the essence of the american dream goes a long way. >> and then to try to identify future leaders that is what they did when they modernize the democratic party. there is a lot of things that happened those that certainly weighed in in getting into this mess overnight. it will not be fixed overnight. >> but this book really does talk directly to the time. rinaldi wrote that before but that is so long it takes to write a book.
>> guest: daintily i was able as every draft got more and more trump. [laughter] that is amazing i saw the trend bubbling up but i didn't know that would be the vessel to manifest. >> host: amazing. is this just a trump problem was he put that same kind of face of the party? >> because i started writing the book before i take it would have manifested another way. there might health then another third party. may be ben person catches fire.
it is this so the a donald trump phenomenon. and he identified this moment in a way nobody else can. so he saw this coming as a business opportunity and exploited that i know of other candidates could. >> host: would they? this group always existed. and then to find democrats more appealing. and then looking for people to blame the first kennedy running for president who identified them because for everybody else to have done so.
>> we have popular candidates and george wallace. pat buchanan is similar but the country was not as angry or frustrated the timing is better than it ever other candidates who move around the edges like huckabee and santorum who won in iowa 2008 taps into the populace but they never would have followed trump because they are conservative to a certain degree but they nibbled around the edges. that was almost uniquely the way nobody else could.
>> we also have learned that nuances' new locker to a viable commodity. like her rand paul. i am grateful we got to hear his point of view even when i disagreed. do we get that back? >> that is an interesting question because in some ways it is cyclical. and then also leading with populism and going back and forth. for example, you have people like andrew jackson who was called old hickory. to be the best and brightest.
while some of it is cyclical and is also linear with politics getting progressively dumbed down. >> host: i think it is bipartisan however it disproportionately hit republicans. and then to go through the identity crisis. and then gave up the michael dukakis with a southern governor. they had to lose those three presidential elections with that come to jesus moment and right now democrats are more disciplined than have the bully pulpit.
to be susceptible to those limbs that are happening and find who they are. and one example hot technology has changed it wasn't that long ago they renominated of trump never would have gotten started. but could donald trump happened in the world without 24/7 cable news and twitter? i don't know but there's so many different factors and
the best and brightest. not at all. reason -- apart reason i'm so injury is a feel he is exploiting people those that come from western maryland and i feel that he is manipulating some of the good. >> i have taken some heat for suggesting running for the third-party because the damage he is doing is done. and it is looking irreparable. with the other people women and minorities is seems to
have unraveled. >> with the trump coalition goes completely against that. to safely with the future we have to do a b or c. >> he doesn't care about the health of the party. >> but i am more optimistic than you. i think "the donald" trump nominee would send a message to what the republican party is but i still thank you could end up with a republican party that looks like marco rubio or paul ryan an optimistic, a conservative, forward-looking and is incredibly appealing and what he said as a candidate from yesterday to become a bridge
to the past. >> if marco rubio wins the nomination to have a standard bearer that is a much more adept that we want included from party politics where do they increase supporters go? where does that they incur go? and how do we deal with as a party the reality a year still out there without completely writing them off? >> one question is i have no idea where he goes. also what kind of damage could he do? to be a good soldier.
>> because a lot of trouble that is a wild card. they do have to find a way to bring the support to the polls and while i think many are misguided there are probably good americans who were sincerely angry and frustrated and we have not lived up to the promise of the american dream. i see that happening. said to have a middle-class lifestyle. it is unfortunate middle-class lifestyle owning their own home for my generation. fatah we bring them in? it is important is a surgical strike to take out
trump could not to be little and besmirch the people. if we get a president in their futures around the economy it could set aside to look back at the moment in history where people want to take out their pitchforks now they put them away. and then we can all be happy with a big conservative movement again. >> with this election, the ted cruz got slack for bear hug being tromped as long as he did. that is to those to collective voters.
although after iowa we learned it was going after marco rubio howdy say trump is wrong in not the right messenger for our party but somehow i am four you? >> rubio talks about he can unite the party. the candidate that is optimistic end can appeal to americans. >> now what trump supporters want to hear. >> rubio can make the electability argument he is the best to go up against hillary. it is very -- it is hard to win three presidential
elections a row. it is very difficult to go backwards in terms of generational the. and rubio is the candidate that can run. just that split screen picture has the young look verses clinton. [laughter] has a socialist and a grandfather. >> let's talk briefly about the democrats. i do think marco rubio is the best contrast against clinton but you know, she will say he is untested and inexperienced. so how does he survived
that? >> when is the last time somebody one by arguing there the most experienced candidate? it isn't a good instinct but if they really cared about instinct then bush would have beaten clinton dole certainly would have won. so that notion just because she has experienced and he has a youthful energy idle by that. that is part of it. rubio alsoit will be hard to put him like donald trump for what he embodies the immigrants' story the american dream he is an
eloquent communicator compared to romney adjusted not have that. unfairly it was the war on women and it will be much harder to pass rubio but trump and working in different ways. rubio is more like working the edges but i think they could both be effective against hillary. >> so what about those republican candidates for the white house? >> i am more optimistic but my real concern is more long-term especially if
donald trott becomes a standard bearer with the damage said it could do. everything he would do to build a party or movement. hispanics are a classic example. in texas in 20 years white will constitute 38 percent of the electorate so john cornyn actually won the hispanic vote proving that it can be done as long as they don't continue to go lot of their way to alienate hispanics. but if you ever look idiolect for lamp, right now republicans have a hard time winning the electoral college either attacks as being a red state what if it is purple? it is deemed over. they can still win house and
state legislators but if it is a swing state going from california and new york is gave over and we could be headed that way if you're not careful. >> host: to your point we have done really well and we have not done well. >> five out of that popular vote. >> what you see is the answer as the reason why for state and local elections? >> part of that to focus on the power of state in local elections and attorneys general and those positions and are incredibly powerful so thinking that they do
better when it is a low turnout and there is the danger to have the appearance of an the democratic party becomes the party that controls congress and the problem with that talk about nuclear deals with every and executive orders that i think are unconstitutional but if republicans keep going down this path where they can see the high turnout presidential elections. >> and marked by incredible gridlock in bipartisanship and divisiveness knowledge all the full of republicans to be intentionally divisive but who is best to make that change? due conservatives want that?
they seem to gravitate to people like ted cruz to just be a thorn in the side of democrats and republicans as well. do we want to start reaching across the aisle again? and get stuff done a really dig in our feet? >> i talk about compromise and it is a dirty word. >> we wouldn't be the space not for compromise. jefferson basically having a dinner party and working out a deal where they would pay debts from the revolutionary war entered for moving the capital here. so our country begins with compromises novel is a dirty word.